Anti-Hunters Protest NWRS Centennial Celebration

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Anti-hunters are working to foil the celebration honoring one of this country’s crown jewels, the nearly 100 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).

The Fund for Animals, a national animal rights organization, and local anti-hunting activists organized a protest on March 14th at a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Arlington, Virginia to disrupt the National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial Celebration. Anti-hunters carried signs that read “Stop Hunting and Trapping, National Wildlife No Refuge System” and distributed leaflets directing the public to tell Gale Norton, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, to ban hunting and trapping on the NWRS.

The protest comes one day after the Fund for Animals filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s opening of hunting on 39 National Wildlife Refuges since 1997. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the nation’s leading sportsman advocacy organization, has moved to intervene in the case.

According to federal law, the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, the restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans. Hunting is one of four priority public uses of refuge system lands. Others are fishing, wildlife viewing, and environmental education.

“The refuge system is a model of how conservation can work in conjunction with multiple-use activities on public lands,” said U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Vice President for Government Affairs Rob Sexton. “Because of their anti-hunting bias, the Fund for Animals is attacking a proven conservation success story.”

From the beginning, sportsmen have been America’s number one conservationists. As the Washington Post reported today, “In an era predating wildlife protection agencies, hunters were in the best position to notice and protest dwindling wildlife populations.”

Modern sportsmen are the reason refuge land continues to be set aside, protecting critical wildlife habitat. Hunters have provided more than $600 million through the federal duck stamp program. These funds have added nearly 5 million acres of habitat to the refuge system.

Hunters and anglers are the primary funding source for wildlife conservation in the United States. Wildlife species are now more abundant in more areas of the country than at any time during the last century.

“To remove hunters from the National Wildlife Refuge System would be killing the goose that laid the golden egg,” said Sexton. “Hunters willingly pay the lion’s share of conservation funding in the United States and play a key roll in America’s thriving wildlife.”